Regenerative Farming

Spotlight on Lucas Family Farms

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Lucas Family Farms! Member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all of Lucas Family Farm’s local, grass-fed meats and pasture-raised eggs from July 8th – 14th. Read on to learn more about this regenerative ranch, their deep commitment to environmental stewardship, and the family that brings it to life:

 

Lucas Family Farms is a family-run ranch in Orwell, VT, that produces 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef and lamb, as well as non-GMO, pasture-raised eggs. The farm is owned and operated by Josh and Janelle Lucas and their three children, who are all active participants in the day-to-day workings of the farm.

The Lucas Family

 

Raising livestock on their farm is part of a much broader goal that extends beyond producing high-quality food; their livestock offer a means of regenerating their soils, increasing the soil’s ability to retain water, provide nutrients, support biodiversity, and sequester carbon, ultimately offering critical ecosystem services that benefit us all. The Lucas Family practices a type of grazing known as Management Intensive Grazing (MiG) which is a flexible approach to rotational grazing where paddock size, stocking density, and length of grazing period are adjusted to balance forage supply with animal nutrient demand through the grazing season. Practicing MiG has the potential to produce productive, high-quality forage while maintaining or improving soil health factors such as soil organic matter levels, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration.

 
The happy cows at Lucas Family Farms enjoying lush pasture with the Lucas family homestead in the background
 

Livestock have been implicated in many injurious processes including land degradation, excess water use, nutrient excretion, fossil fuel use, and emission of greenhouse gases. However, when livestock are raised on their natural diets of grasses and other diverse forage, they have great potential to positively impact human health and the health of our environment. According to the Savory Institute, raising cattle on pasture for their entire lives can offer benefits ranging from increased animal welfare, preservation of ecosystem services, promotion of deep-rooted perennials on croplands, and recycling of plant nutrients. Properly managed grass-fed cattle are capable of regenerating land by restoring soil microbial diversity and increasing soil organic matter, making land more resilient to flooding and drought. This practice can also boost nutrient content, resulting in more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, more antioxidants, and more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat that’s been shown to reduce heart disease and cancer risk. And because grasses trap atmospheric carbon dioxide, the grass-fed system is a critical tool for sinking carbon and combating climate change. 

 
The girls pitch in with setting and moving paddock fencing as part of the family’s Management Intensive Grazing (MiG) program

 

The pasture-raised eggs produced by Lucas Family Farms offer similar nutritional benefits. According to a 2010 study from Pennsylvania State University, researchers found that one pasture-raised egg contains twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin A concentration is also 38% higher in the eggs of pastured hens compared to commercial hens’ eggs. 

 

Happy pastured hens at Lucas Family Farms

 

From an animal welfare point of view, pastured hens also have significant advantages, due to the fact that they are allowed to roam freely on fresh pasture where they’re free to forage, run, perch, bathe, and socialize as much or as little as they choose. It’s important to note that chickens are omnivores and their optimal diet includes plants, insects, seeds, and even small animals like mice and frogs. Luckily, pastured hens have easy access to all of these foodstuffs, and they’re fresher and more nutritious than anything that can be purchased at the feed store.

 
Hens and cows enjoying adjacent pasture at Lucas Family Farms

Spotlight on Butterworks Farm

Butterworks Farm is basking in the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their local, organic, grass-fed dairy products are 20% off for member-owners from July 1st – July 7th. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over 46 years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sequestration, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty-six years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne) and a desire to live “happily ever after as a couple of back-to-the-landers.” By 1979, the couple was selling yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw milk locally to a growing fan base. Over the next several decades, Jack and Anne continued to blaze new trail as leaders in organic farming, laying a firm foundation for the robust local food system whose fruits we’re lucky to enjoy today.

Along the way, Jack managed to find time to teach classes in organic agriculture at the University of Vermont, give frequent inspirational keynote addresses at organic farming conferences, fervently advocate for the adoption of organic practices, particularly within the dairy sector, and write a book called “The Organic Grain Grower” which Mother Earth News dubbed “the best resource we’ve seen for small-scale grain growers everywhere.” Jack was known for being an avid perpetual student as he and Anne exhaustively researched ways to farm with environmental stewardship at the forefront. 

In 2010, Jack was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spent seven years on dialysis for cancer-related kidney failure. Over that period of time, Anne kept Jack and the farm running, serving as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire Butterworks team. After a long and courageous fight, Jack lost his battle with cancer in November of 2020. Jack and Anne’s daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks Farm and now has a family of her own. A deep love for the team, the farm, the animals, the products, and the mountains keep her inspired as she and her family carry on the rich farming traditions that her parents began.

Jack & Anne Lazor

Anne and Jack Lazor were awarded NOFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and were the first organic farmers to be inducted into the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame. NOFA-VT was also proud to launch a soil health cohort program this year to honor the legacy and wisdom of Jack Lazor. This cohort will promote farmer-to-farmer education and relationship building in an effort to address both short-term mitigation strategies around soil health as well as long-term systems change. This cohort will prioritize farmers who are, or wish to become great educators and will continue to share what they learn with other farmers through mentorship or by hosting workshops in the future. In this way, the funds will continue to pay it forward and honor Jack’s legacy for years to come. Several Addison County farmers including Chad & Morgan Beckwith of Ice House Farm were honored as part of the inaugural class of soil stewards. To see the full list, click here.

 

The lucky cows of Butterworks Farm are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. Jerseys were chosen for their ability to produce exceptional milk on a 100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are always available to the cows in the lush, rotationally grazed pastures of summer and the sweet hay in the winter solar barn.

Their farming methods have evolved over the years. For the first forty years, they were grain growers and hay producers. Cereal crops such as oats, wheat, and barley, along with row crops like corn and soy fit neatly into their crop rotations with grasses and legumes. From the straw for the animals’ bedding to the grain the cows ate, everything was grown on the farm. Over the years, as their soil health and fertility increased, the quality of their forages improved until they realized that they could likely reduce the amount of grain that was being fed to the cows. By 2016, they had phased out grains completely and became a 100% grass-fed dairy, rotating the cows on fresh pasture every twelve hours.  

 

Jack shared in a Butterwork’s Farm blog post that, “our transition to 100% grass-fed is well worth it.  Despite the fact that we will need more land and sharpened management skills to do this, we are very happy to promote more grass and less grain (and subsequently less tillage) on the land that we steward.  More grass means more fibrous root systems in the soil.  Less grain means less tillage and better soil health.  Less tillage means less burning of fossil fuels and less disturbance to the delicate balance of microorganisms in our soils. Our primary goal in farming is to take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and through photosynthesis, lock it up in the Earth’s crust as humus and organic matter.  Higher carbon levels in the soil are the number one weapon that we as humans have to reduce and eliminate the effects of a changing climate.”

Spotlight on Butterworks Farm

Butterworks Farm is basking in the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their local, organic, grass-fed dairy products are 20% off for member-owners from July 1st – July 7th. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over 46 years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sequestration, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty-six years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne) and a desire to live “happily ever after as a couple of back-to-the-landers.” By 1979, the couple was selling yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw milk locally to a growing fan base. Over the next several decades, Jack and Anne continued to blaze new trail as leaders in organic farming, laying a firm foundation for the robust local food system whose fruits we’re lucky to enjoy today.

Along the way, Jack managed to find time to teach classes in organic agriculture at the University of Vermont, give frequent inspirational keynote addresses at organic farming conferences, fervently advocate for the adoption of organic practices, particularly within the dairy sector, and write a book called “The Organic Grain Grower” which Mother Earth News dubbed “the best resource we’ve seen for small-scale grain growers everywhere.” Jack was known for being an avid perpetual student as he and Anne exhaustively researched ways to farm with environmental stewardship at the forefront. 

In 2010, Jack was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spent seven years on dialysis for cancer-related kidney failure. Over that period of time, Anne kept Jack and the farm running, serving as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire Butterworks team. After a long and courageous fight, Jack lost his battle with cancer in November of 2020. Jack and Anne’s daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks Farm and now has a family of her own. A deep love for the team, the farm, the animals, the products, and the mountains keep her inspired as she and her family carry on the rich farming traditions that her parents began.

Jack & Anne Lazor

Anne and Jack Lazor were awarded NOFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and were the first organic farmers to be inducted into the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame. NOFA-VT was also proud to launch a soil health cohort program this year to honor the legacy and wisdom of Jack Lazor. This cohort will promote farmer-to-farmer education and relationship building in an effort to address both short-term mitigation strategies around soil health as well as long-term systems change. This cohort will prioritize farmers who are, or wish to become great educators and will continue to share what they learn with other farmers through mentorship or by hosting workshops in the future. In this way, the funds will continue to pay it forward and honor Jack’s legacy for years to come. Several Addison County farmers including Chad & Morgan Beckwith of Ice House Farm were honored as part of the inaugural class of soil stewards. To see the full list, click here.

 

The lucky cows of Butterworks Farm are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. Jerseys were chosen for their ability to produce exceptional milk on a 100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are always available to the cows in the lush, rotationally grazed pastures of summer and the sweet hay in the winter solar barn.

Their farming methods have evolved over the years. For the first forty years, they were grain growers and hay producers. Cereal crops such as oats, wheat, and barley, along with row crops like corn and soy fit neatly into their crop rotations with grasses and legumes. From the straw for the animals’ bedding to the grain the cows ate, everything was grown on the farm. Over the years, as their soil health and fertility increased, the quality of their forages improved until they realized that they could likely reduce the amount of grain that was being fed to the cows. By 2016, they had phased out grains completely and became a 100% grass-fed dairy, rotating the cows on fresh pasture every twelve hours.  

 

Jack shared in a Butterwork’s Farm blog post that, “our transition to 100% grass-fed is well worth it.  Despite the fact that we will need more land and sharpened management skills to do this, we are very happy to promote more grass and less grain (and subsequently less tillage) on the land that we steward.  More grass means more fibrous root systems in the soil.  Less grain means less tillage and better soil health.  Less tillage means less burning of fossil fuels and less disturbance to the delicate balance of microorganisms in our soils. Our primary goal in farming is to take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and through photosynthesis, lock it up in the Earth’s crust as humus and organic matter.  Higher carbon levels in the soil are the number one weapon that we as humans have to reduce and eliminate the effects of a changing climate.”

Spotlight on Butterworks Farm

Butterworks Farm is basking in the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their local, organic, grass-fed dairy products are 20% off for member-owners from March 26th – April 1st. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over forty–six years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sinking, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne). As long-time sustainable farmers and leaders in organic farming, they continue to play an important role in the dynamics and operations at Butterworks and beyond. Jack is a writer and frequent inspirational keynote speaker at organic farming conferences everywhere. He enjoys food, friends and pursuing his passions- sustainability and soil science. Anne keeps Jack and the farm running as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire team. She enjoys gardening, keeping chickens and ducks, the study of homeopathic medicine and upholds the homesteading spirit she and Jack started with 40 years ago. Their daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks and now has a family of her own. A deep love for the team, the farm, the animals, the products and the mountains keep her inspired as she and her family carry on the rich farming traditions that her parents began.

Their cows are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. They choose Jerseys for their ability to produce milk on a  100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are available to the cows always in the lush, rotationally grazed pastures of summer and the sweet hay in the winter solar barn.

Their farming methods have evolved over the years. For the first forty years, they were grain growers and hay producers. Cereal crops such as oats, wheat, and barley, along with row crops like corn and soy fit neatly into their crop rotations with grasses and legumes. From the straw for the animals bedding to the grain the cows ate, everything was grown on the farm. Over the years, as their soil health and fertility increased, the quality of their forages improved until they realized that they could likely reduce the amount of grain that was being fed to the cows. By 2016, they had phased out grains completely and became a 100% grass-fed dairy, rotating the cows on fresh pasture every twelve hours.  

 

Jack Lazor shared on the Butterwork’s Farm blog that, “our transition to 100% grass-fed is well worth it.  Despite the fact that we will need more land and sharpened management skills to do this, we are very happy to promote more grass and less grain (and subsequently less tillage) on the land that we steward.  More grass means more fibrous root systems in the soil.  Less grain means less tillage and better soil health.  Less tillage means less burning of fossil fuels and less disturbance to the delicate balance of microorganisms in our soils.

“Our primary goal in farming is to take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and through photosynthesis, lock it up in the Earth’s crust as humus and organic matter.  Higher carbon levels in the soil are the number one weapon that we as humans have to reduce and eliminate the effects of a changing climate.  We are excited to be trying something challenging and new.  Our farming practices were already focused on mineralization and soil health which has built a vibrant farm organism.  Our switch to 100% grass-fed dairying is taking us to new levels.  It is incredibly hard work, but so much fun and what we are learning we want to share with others in the process.”

 

June is Dairy Month

Since 1937, Americans have been celebrating June as National Dairy Month. As we take this time to heartily celebrate our dairy farmers this month, it’s hard to avoid mention of the many challenges that dairy farmers in Vermont and across the country continue to face as they endure the fifth consecutive year of low farm-gate milk prices. This means that the price farmers are paid for the milk they produce is well below the cost of production. As a recent press release from Rural Vermont states, “our agricultural heartbeat is in threat, as is our farmland. With an average farmer age of 58 and consistently inadequate milk prices, the future for our dairy community, and its accompanying 80% of Vermont’s agricultural land is in jeopardy as it goes through a formative transition.” 

The Local Scene

Our local dairy farmers need our support now more than ever, though some recent developments give us reason to feel optimistic.  In April of 2019 over 50 Vermont dairy farmers and eaters gathered for a meeting geared toward developing strategies for viability. The overwhelming sentiment shared throughout the meeting was one of hope and gratitude for the local support they’re receiving. The six dairy farmers on the panel that day, along with many other conventional and organic dairy farmers in attendance, underscored the value of having strong local support. They recognized the need to provide ongoing education for the community about the impact of supporting local dairy. As George van Vlaanderen of Does’ Leap Farm in East Fairfield stated, “It’s contingent on us to educate friends and neighbors about where our food comes from and the impact of voting with your dollars. We can support a prosperous agricultural future by supporting our farmer neighbors today.” Amber Machia of Red Barn in HIghgate echoed his sentiments, reminding those in attendance that impact of spending food dollars locally extends well beyond the farms, affecting the multitude of other local businesses connected to local dairy farms, including feed supply stores, trucking companies, label and package makers, and distribution hubs.

Happy grass-fed cows at Butterworks Farm

National Support

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, played a key role in forging the 2018 Farm Bill’s dairy priorities and, as a result of his efforts, the Farm Bill dramatically expanded support for dairy producers, providing flexible, affordable coverage options through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. The goal of the Farm Bill is to benefit producers of all sizes, but offers up to five times more support for the smallest farms, as those farms tend to be hardest hit during times of crisis. This is particularly good news for Vermont dairy farmers, as most manage herds of less than 200 cattle, qualifying them as small dairies by national standards. Leahy, along with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and others, penned a bipartisan letter in April asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize the implementation of the dairy provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to help provide some much-needed relief to dairy farmers without delay. Leahy followed that up with an additional bipartisan letter on May 17th urging Perdue to increase trade war relief payments to a level that more accurately reflects the damages dairy farmers have faced, as the current trade mitigation program has failed to fairly compensate dairy farmers slammed by retaliatory tariffs. It sure is nice to have a local Senator fighting so hard for our farmers.

Milk with Dignity

A bright spot in local dairy news this year was the adoption of the Milk with Dignity program by local dairy giant Ben & Jerry’s. In a recent article in VT Digger, Marita Canedo, Migrant Justice staff member and event panelist representing the Milk with Dignity Program, reflected on Ben & Jerry’s adoption of the program as a human rights victory. “It took more than two years in a public campaign and 4 years in conversation. We had to have translators and it took a long time, but we finally had everyone at the same table. There are human rights in that ice cream.” The Milk with Dignity Program brings together farmers, farmworker, buyers, and consumers to ensure dignified working conditions in the dairy supply chain, asking the corporations making the most in the dairy industry to pay for a higher standard of human rights for workers.

This came as part of a larger Values-Led Dairy Vision adopted by Ben & Jerry’s, which specifies that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s in the manufacture of its products will be sourced from dairy farms which have:

  • Thriving and dignified livelihoods for farmers and farm workers
  • Exceptional animal welfare standards for cows
  • A flourishing ecosystem in which feed is grown ecologically, without the use of harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity
  • Farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil.

Ben & Jerry’s sources most of the milk and cream from members of the St. Albans Cooperative. 

Grass-fed Organic Dairy Offers Solutions

The US milk glut and the accompanying drop in dairy prices over the past few years have wielded a tough blow for conventional and organic dairy farmers alike, though organic and grass-fed dairy farms are still faring better than their conventional counterparts. Consumers are beginning to recognize the importance of supporting organic dairy production that utilizes traditional pasture-based systems of rotational grazing. Not only does this system of natural grazing aid the environment in terms of soil restoration, increased biodiversity, improved water quality, and flood mitigation – but it also it guarantees healthy lives for the animals, and they, in turn, produce meat and milk that is healthier for us than the grain-fed alternatives. Soil scientists have determined that grazing animals are critical to the process of building soil organic matter. According to Jean Paul Courtens of Roxbury Farm, who presented at the recent Real Organic Project Symposium at Dartmouth, a mere one-percent increase in the soil organic matter on the four billion acres that are used for agricultural production on our planet would allow for the sequestration of 102 billion tons of carbon dioxide. When raising livestock using managed rotational grazing, it is possible to sink more carbon than one is producing, making organic agricultural production an active part of the solution to the ongoing threat of climate change.  

Happy grass-fed cows at Larson Farm & Creamery

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Muir Glen

We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Muir Glen this week! From February 21st – 27th, all Muir Glen products are 20% off for Member-owners, so it’s a great time to stock up the pantry with these staples! Read on to learn more about why they shine:

 

Muir Glen was founded on the belief that there must be a way to grow a better tasting tomato—it must be grown organically. That’s why they grow their signature organic tomatoes in the rich organic soil of California’s Sacramento Valley. It takes a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.

Their Principles –

Regenerative Farming

Muir Glen is building on their commitment to source 100% of their ingredients from certified organic farms by expanding their priorities to include regenerative practices like cover cropping and diverse crop rotations.

Protecting Pollinators

The unsung heroes of agriculture, the tiny but mighty bees work hard for our food.  Because the folks at Muir Glen want them to keep on buzzing for generations to come, they’ve partnered with the Xerces Society to plant pollinator habitats on the California farms that grow their tomatoes.

Farmers as Partners

As they learn more about the farmers and communities that make Muir Glen products possible, they’re working to find ways to support them all on a deeper level. Muir Glen seeks to understand their challenges and opportunities by cultivating real relationships with these champions who are committed to regenerating natural resources to ensure long-term prosperity.

 

Click HERE for great recipes from their web page!

 

 

 

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